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NSF News Highlights

Going To Extremes

Bizarre Life Forms Thrive
Beneath the Earth's Surface

Deep within the planet may be the best place to find new life forms on our planet -- and glean clues to possible life on others. Vaporous hot pools far beneath the Earth's surface support microbes conducting the business of life at extreme temperatures and pressures. The microbes, some of which are bacteria, are all called extremophiles, and their potentially far-reaching domain is called the subsurface biosphere. In mid-March, at a workshop funded by NSF, more than 100 scientists gathered to discuss the subsurface biosphere. Today, researchers are following clues leading them on a fantastic descent into Earth's subterranean world, where an entire biosphere of extremophiles ferments in superheated, vise-pressured darkness.    More...

Engineering Sight:
Advances in Artificial Retina Development

In the surgery suites of Johns Hopkins University Hospital and the laboratories of North Carolina State University, artificial vision is moving out of the realm of science fiction and into reality. During a videotaped procedure in 1994, surgeons put an electrode array into the eye of a blind patient, and while delivering small, controlled electrical pulses, asked what he could see. "Well," replied the volunteer patient, "it was a black dot with a yellow ring around it."    More...

Preparing U.S. Students for
the Twenty-First Century

At a July 23rd congressional hearing on role of the federal government in science, mathematics, engineering and technology (SMET) education, NSF Director Neal Lane testified, "America's system of higher education sets a world standard for excellence and inclusiveness. Yet even this outstanding system faces challenges in preparing students for dealing with the rapidly changing scientific and technological landscape. The continued involvement of the federal government in SMET education is important to instigate the major changes required for preparing U.S. students for the twenty-first century."    More...

Implementing GPRA
The National Science Foundation is joining other federal agencies in preparing to implement the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993. The law requires all federal agencies to account for program results through the integration of strategic planning, budgeting and performance measurement. On July 30, 1997, in testimony before a congressional committee, NSF Acting Deputy Director Joseph Bordogna said, "NSF has always viewed implementation of GPRA as an opportunity to strengthen our strategic planning process and link it to budget formulation. ...(The) Results Act provides a valuable tool for shaping our programs and continuing to improve the already high returns on public investments in science and engineering research and education."    More...

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